Capital Campaign

January 18th, 2013 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Sermons

L’Dor VaDor Campaign – Generation to Generation – Honoring Our Past – Securing Our Future

Rabbi Mark Mallach


Thank you Pam and erev tov to everyone.

            This past Monday, I had the privilege of hearing a Dvar Torah given by Professor Arnie Eisen, the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.  In one part, he shared that he admired the similar theologies of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Abraham Heschel – contemporaries who marched together in the Civil Rights Movement.  Chancellor Eisen shared that both King and Heschel espoused a view of an active God in our world, but One that it is not always clear to us, yet God is here.

            King was often asked how a God present in our lives could allow civil rights abuses and the threats and attempts on his life.  King’s last speech, delivered on April 3, 1968, clearly reflects the King/Heschel shared theology:

“I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…But … I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And … tonight… I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

            Heschel, who lost nearly his entire family in the Shoah, and King, who would be assassinated the very next day after that speech, both took to heart the words of Perkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Ancestors:

רבי טרפון אומר, היום קצר, והמלאכה מרובה, והפועלים עצלים, והשכר הרבה, ובעל הבית דוחק.

“The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house [our God] is insistent.” (Avot 2:20) And, in the next verse:

לא עליך כל המלאכה לגמור, ולא אתה בן חורין ליבטל   

“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”

            My dear friends, tonight, this gala celebration, kicks-off our L’Dor VaDor Campaign – Generation to Generation – Honoring Our Past – Securing Our Future. 

            Tonight, we have begun to climb the mountain  to our promised land of fiscal security.              Tonight, we honor those upon whose backs we were carried in the past – we have 33 member units whom have been members for at least 50 years; and tonight, we know the labor is vast but our Master – our God, is insistent that we provide for the future of our children, grandchildren and God-willing our great-grandchildren.

            Tonight, I look upon this gathering and I now clearly understand what Rabbi Tarfon meant: “It is not incumbent upon us to complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it”

            Tonight, our lay leadership will tell us that the labor is vast, but the reward will be great.

            And, tonight, I want to say to you, that “I want you to know .. that we, as a people will get to the promised land…Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” And that glory of God is reflected in your eyes that I now look into in this sanctuary.

            My dear friends, Hillel haya omer, Eem lo achshvav, az ma`tai – Hillel said, “If not now, then when?”  Tonight officially begins the now – tonight – LaDor VaDor – climb the mountain with me and see the glory of the Lord! Hallayuah! ALUASA.

Sermon: Matot-Mase 5772

July 22nd, 2012 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Sermons

There shall be for you six cities of refuge (Numbers 35:13)

Shabbat Shalom;

            Early Wednesday morning, in response to a news report of hundreds of Syrian refugees crossing in Turkey to seek refuge from the murderous Syrian President Bashar Assad, and due to the escalating crisis, the Syrian military had pulled troops from the Golan Heights to the hot-spots of the revolt; a brigadier general in the Israel Army expressed his concern that it could leave Israel’s border on the Golan with Syria vulnerable to terrorist incursions by Al Queda. In response, my mind was drawn to a  verse in this week’s Torah portion[1] that states:

There shall be for you six cities of refuge (Numbers 35:13)

          שש ערי מקלט תהיינה לכם (במדבר לה:יג)

            Yes, I was going to address this concept until the news broke from Bulgaria and created a nauseous feeling throughout my body. I was going to speak about this concept of the ability to take refuge, the 1st mention in world history of such a protective concept, but that all changed as I came to the realization that instead of the concept of a city of refuge being a positive way to protect those needing such protection, that we live in a world where a city such as Burgas, Bulgaria becomes a refuge to harbor terrorists! That we live in a world that seems incapable of stopping terrorism, or even to make a unified, public statement against it!

            That we live in a country that now reels from a senseless murderous rampage in a movie theater in Aurora, CA.

            That we live in a world in which terrorists can continue to raise their bloody hands against innocent victims. The attack on the Israeli tourist bus at Sarafovo International Airport occurred on the 18th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires that killed 87. Do you see the horrible irony? We know terrorists plot attacks on anniversaries of prior attacks, but the 18th, Chai – Life – now transformed into death!

            And, as I mentioned last Friday night, we live in a world in which the IOC refuses to grant a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, 1 week from today, on the 40th Anniversary of the Munich Olympic massacre of the 11 members of the Israeli delegation.  A moment of silence that would clearly state that we are a world that won’t tolerate the scourge of terrorism!

            Oy, oy, oy!  Our suffering is great, our pain is immense; we feel so helpless  – all we can do at this moment in time is offer a prayer, a prayer written by my colleague Menachen Creditor; there was copy available on the table as you walked in – please join with me:

Prayer in Response to the Terror Attack in Bulgaria

By Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear God,

It is just too much. On the eighteenth anniversary of the attack that killed eighty-seven of our brothers and sisters in Buenos Aires, we have lost more of our family, this time in Bulgaria. Again. It is just too much. 

So many people, on their way to enjoy Your world, Adonai… We know there is no sufficient answer, but we call out from the depths of our souls: Why? We cannot absorb the pain. 

Today, we are made aware once more of the fragility of goodness and the urgency of peace. We are one family of many families, God. We are bound together with all families in a common life, in a dream of peace. And on days like this that dream shatters into almost irretrievable shards. We need You. 

We mourn for our murdered sisters and brothers cut down today by evil. May their memories be a blessing, and may their souls be bound up in the bond of Life.

We pray for those injured. Merciful One, grant them the courage to continue their daily living.

We pray for the families of those who died today. Merciful One, we have no words, but we ask You to be a Comforting Presence with them.

We pray for the vigilance and care of emergency responders and medical professionals, tending to those local to the attack. God, guide their hands and hearts.

We pray that our elected leaders respond with wisdom and justice, that this horrible event not hold us back – as the Jewish People and as citizens of the world – from helping each other to overcome the threat of terrorism.

Give us hope that one day terrorism will cease, Adonai. And give us the wisdom to do what is necessary to live in safety and peace until that day. 

May our world be blessed with peace. ALUASA.

[1] Verse & link to Syria came from AIPAC’s Torah Tidbits 5772

Sermon: Shabbat Pinhas, 7/13/12

July 12th, 2012 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Sermons

Who may go out before them (Numbers 27:17)                                          

Shabbat Shalom. In this week’s parasha, Moshe learns of his impending death and asks God to appoint a new leader; a leader that will “go out before them – AHSHARE YEH`TZEH LEEF`NAH`KHEM … (27:17).

            This phrase is usually understood to refer to a military role; however, Rabbi S.R. Hirsch (19th C.) explains that Moshe described a leader willing to devote himself to work for the good of the nation. “[Going out] refers to his ability, apart from military activity, for public activity of every kind…the activity of the shepherd is devoted to the thriving and welfare of the flock.”

            Wow, what an amazing concept, that a leader should be devoted to the thriving and welfare of the people!  Now, wait a second, I know what you are thinking, is the rabbi going to talk about the presidential campaign? No, sorry, not all; rather let me ask you a question: On July 27th, do you plan to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics from London?

            Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of these ceremonies; the only part that I like to see is when the Israeli delegation parades into the stadium.  But this year, I’m not going to watch because of what I consider a grave breach of the responsibility of leadership of the IOC President, Jacques Rogge – his refusal, and the IOC committee’s refusal to devote their activity to the welfare of the entire flock.

            This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre when 11 members of the Israeli delegation were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. In every successive Summer Games, the IOC has been petitioned for a moment of silence during the Opening Ceremonies.  This year, the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany and the U.S. have also petitioned the IOC for a moment of silence.

            In May, the IOC responded – NO – the IOC staunchly protects what they consider the incursion of politics into the Olympics. President Jacques Rogge has been asked to reconsider; it is highly unlikely that he will do so.

            In the words of David Harris, the Executive Director of the American-Jewish Committee: “The 11 victims in 1972 were Israeli, but the Palestinian terror attack …was an assault on all who came to participate peacefully in the spirit of the Olympics. The IOC refusal to hold a moment of silence during the London games opening ceremony…is simply shameful. How else can we interpret the IOC decision but as political in what is meant to be a non-political movement?”

            Guido Westerwelle, the German Foreign Minister wrote to Rogge: “Holding a moment of silence in memory of the fallen Israeli athletes during the London Olympics will count as a kind, humanitarian gesture, and will send the message that violence and terror do not comply with the Olympic idea.”

            Again, in the words of David Harris:  “The 40th anniversary of that tragedy is a perfect opportunity for the Olympics to properly honor the memory of those innocent Israelis. Is a minute of silence too much to ask, given the tragedy that befell the Israeli contingent and, indeed, the entire Olympic movement?” 

            IMHO, the president of the IOC is not a leader that will “go out before them – AHSHARE YEH`TZEH LEEF`NAH`KHEM.” Therefore, on July 27th, as NBC broadcasts the opening ceremonies, I will not be watching. My eyes, my mind, my heart will recall the images of those murdered 11 Israelis, and that they are still publically ignored by the IOC. After all, did not the then president of the IOC, Avery Bundage state: “The games must go on…”

            A moment of silence would clearly teach that the world must not know such horrors ever again.

            Kain y`hee ratzon – may it so be God’s will & ALUASA.

Sermon: Hukkat 5772 – 6/29/12

July 3rd, 2012 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Sermons

Shabbat Shalom.

In this week’s sedra, Hukkat, we read of the death of Aharon, Moshe’s brother.  However, he was more than Moshe’s brother, he represented the religious leadership of the nation: the 1st Kohain HaGadol – High Priest, and was Moshe’s partner in leading the Israelites from slavery to freedom.

            Like Moshe, Aharon was denied entry to the Promised Land.  In this week’s reading, Aharon, Moshe & Eleazar, Aharon’s son, go off to a mountain top, where Moshe removes the vestments of the High Priest and places them upon Eleazar.  And, then we are told that Aharon breathers his last and dies.

            We are then told that the Israelites mourned Aharon’s death for 30 days before resuming their journey. After all, life must go on.

            Allow me to stretch the concept, not in the case of a death, but I do sense that many of us here this erev Shabbat do feel a sense of mourning because a figure almost tantamount to haKohain haGadol will not be continuing the journey with us after this Shabbat.

            Richy, I know you have emphatically made it clear that you did not want any farewell programs or ceremonies, or in the profound hurt that you must feel, to have to listen to laudatory speeches, effusive with platitudes – we have respected your decision.  Indeed, the laudatory platitudes are evidenced by those simply sitting in the pews.

            However, after 13 years of sharing this pulpit with you, I do have some personal words that I want to share.

            You have been both an Ezer Tov and a chaver to me – a great help and a friend.  I, too, will miss your beautiful voice, your profound knowledge of Judaica and sacred music, your warmth, your compassion, and your sense of humor, both the jokes I can repeat and those that I can’t.

            I will miss the ability to count upon you and rely upon you whenever needed, and your advice and camaraderie. 

            And, of course, the beautiful soprano voice of your dear Andrea will be missed from our choir, and her talents in the temple kitchen.  Plus, you know proud I am of Zoe our new USY president and the Ruah Committee Chair on the USY regional board!

            Yes, that is what I feel in my heart.  However, I also know that the only thing constant in life is change and life goes on, the journey must continue.

            My prayer, my hope, my wish for you and your family is Hatzlacha – Success – Brachot – Blessings, and I say to you, todah rabah.


Shabbat B`har-B`hukkotai

May 17th, 2012 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Sermons

Prophetic Truths

Shabbat Shalom.

One of the loneliest and most rejected figures in his own time had to be the prophet Jeremiah; tomorrow, Sara will chant a selection from Jeremiah for her Haftarah.

            Jeremiah preached in the period of time that led up to the destruction of the 1st Holy Temple by the Babylonians invading from the north in 586 BCE.  He railed against the prevalent idolatry of the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom, and decried the alliance that the Israelite nation forged with Egypt in the pending war against the Babylonians.  He preached how they dare trust in their historical enemy Egypt; the Babylonians were at least the lesser of the 2 evils!

            After the destruction of the Temple, he fled to Egypt with other refugees and was eventually assassinated by fellow Israelites; a sad end to a voice that spoke the truth that no one wanted to hear.  What was that truth?, summed up in 2 verses from tomorrow’s Haftarah:

ה  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה, אָרוּר הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בָּאָדָם,

5 Thus says Ahdonai: Cursed is the man that trusts in man

ז  בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר, אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּיהוָה; וְהָיָה יְהוָה, מִבְטַחוֹ.

7 Blessed is the man that trusts in the Ahdonai, and whose trust is Ahdonai alone.

            Yes, Jeremiah, lonely, ignored and betrayed, yet truly prophetic. Today, Israel lies once again in the cross-roads and cross-hairs of threats from the north and the south.

            From the north, it is not just a nearly nuclear ready Iran, but just last week Hezbollah in Lebanon announced that they have rockets that can reach pinpointed targets in every part of Israel.

            And, from the south, Israel’s peace partner, Egypt? The next phase of their presidential election will take place next week, and in a television interview last Saturday, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, “a leading Islamist candidate in Egypt’s presidential election has branded Israel a “racist state” and said that the 1979 peace treaty was “a national security threat,” and “it must be revised.”Abul Fotouh in a previous “televised debate with his main contender, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Mussa.,” labeled Israel an “enemy.”

            Apparently, words spoken 2600 years ago by the Jeremiah still ring true today:

ה   אָרוּר הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בָּאָדָם,

5 Cursed is the man that trusts in man

            So then, who can be trusted to bring peace to Israel and the Middle East?  The futility inherent in the question leads to the same answer that concludes tomorrow’s Haftorah:

יד  רְפָאֵנִי יְהוָה וְאֵרָפֵא, הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי וְאִוָּשֵׁעָה: 

14 Heal me, Ahdonai, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved

Kain y`hee ratzon – may it only be — ALUASA